My 2016

      It’s interesting how many things can change in three hundred and sixty five days.

In 2016:

      I lost my dog, Daphne. Losing an animal is one of the worst pains in the world. And having to watch my other dog, Darla, live without her sister is devastating.

      My grandmother passed away this year forcing me to deal with emotions I’ve spent years burying deep down in my core. Feelings of bitterness, anger, and even hate. Coming to terms with the fact that I grew up with a very different grandmom than my brother did. That’s something I’ve always known but to see his grief, and my parent’s grief…it all became very clear just how different our relationships were with her.

      I lost weight. I gained some of it back. This lifelong battle continues.

      I did gain something else though. I gained a sense of confidence deeper than I’ve ever had in the past. Slowly over the years, my confidence has grown but this year in particular was empowering. I can’t point to one or two events specifically but as a whole, I feel better, happier about who I am and the way I look.

      Unfortunately, everyone has set backs. This year, I took my very first solo vacation. The vacation itself was one of the best experiences of my life and I don’t regret a second of it. Leading up to the vacation though, I constantly had to face this question: “You’re really going by yourself?” The tone of people’s voices, the expression on their faces. It set something off in me. It started off as a joke. I would say, “Well yeah, why not? I do everything else on my own, might as well do this too.”

      My own joke started to hurt. It stirred something inside me I’ve repressed. The horrible fear I’ll end up spending my whole life alone. That this is one of many other instances where I have to be alone because there’s no one else around. Having to go to two weddings by myself this year didn’t exactly help quell this fear.

      You know, 95% of the time I’m perfectly content being on my own. I love living alone with my cat. I love having my privacy and my own space. But then there’s that 5%. The 5% of pitying looks on other people’s faces. The 5% of slow dances at weddings where I hide in the bathroom to avoid having to see everyone being so in love. The 5% of not having someone waiting for me when I get home from saying goodbye to my dog or seeing my grandmom in the hospital. Sometimes the 5% gets the best of me.

      Then I went on my vacation. I traveled to the West Coast and I went all around San Francisco. I did everything on my own timetable. I saw everything I wanted to see and I was able to be a complete geek at a Supernatural convention without feeling judged. I met Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins. I sat in on Q&A panels for a bunch of the stars. I stayed in one of the nicest hotels and enjoyed every second of it. Like I said, not one regret and I would travel alone again in a heartbeat because I now have the confidence to sit in a restaurant and eat by myself. Because I can talk to anyone about anything. Because I no longer care what other people think of me. Only took me 27 years but better late than never.

      One other big thing happened this year. My big brother asked his girlfriend to marry him on Christmas Day. She said yes and now I’m going to have a sister. I’ve watched my brother go through a lot of girlfriends over the years but I knew the day he brought this one home, she was different. He smiles brighter and laughs harder when she’s around. I couldn’t be happier for the both of them and for my family as a whole.

      I’m specifically avoiding talking about the state of the world at this point because I’d probably never stop talking if I start. The only thing we can do is be decent human beings, raise the future generation to be kind and open-minded, continue to strive towards equal rights for every single person, and teach non-believers about climate change and how it’s a scientific fact.

      If you lost someone in 2016, whether it was a family member or a beloved celebrity, it matters and I am truly sorry for you loss. I hope the next year is one with fewer funerals and less tragedy.

      I’m only asking one thing from 2017. I’m asking to continue to grow as a person. It’s what we should all ask for every day of our lives. Hang on to the things you love. Treat people with respect. Go through life with less judgement of others. Be happy.

      Happy New Year, everyone!